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court case of a couple of years ago and, obviously, municipal concerns like the city of detroit. define for us what exactly is eminent domain? >> guest: well, thank you, bill. and, again, it's a pleasure to be back on "washington journal." eminent domain is the power of government to take private property. it's actually a very old power. kings in europe exercised it hundreds of years ago. garage -- gradually the custom arose that people have to be compensated when their property was taken. and it was certainly an attribute of the british crown. so after the revolution the states had the power, and interestingly the fifth amendment to the federal constitution says that nor shall private property be taken without just compensation. it doesn't actually give the federal government the power, it simply assumes that as a sovereign the federal government has that power. >> and was that fifth amendment built into the constitution based on the experiences of the colonies with the crown? >> well, this is a very fascinating point because the crown had abused the colonies in, many ways. so you have
as we have seen in europe and detroit last week? >> you frame this very well. i think it's a important as said to put things in context. when i go back to those years, it was an extraordinary time in american fiscal history. i will never forget being called to an emergency meeting in the fall of 2008 to the majority leader's office. they had been chairing the meeting on energy in another part of the capitol complex. i walked in and there may be 16 or 17 people in the room and in the house and the senate, republicans and democrats. the psychiatry of the treasury and the bush administration was about 6 o'clock in the evening they posted a guard at the door and closed the door. it was very unusual, as you know. and i knew something dramatic was afoot. i sat down and the meeting began. the secretary of the treasury and the federal reserve told us they were taking over the large insurance company the next day and they made very clear they were out there to seek our advice or approval. they were there to inform us they were taking the steps and they told us that if they did not do it they be
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